First Night Feast

There’s a first time for everything, and tonight is full of firsts. It’s funny that this whole menu is titled “First Night Feast” honestly, because it’s the first time i’m ever cooking veal (woohoo) and it’s the first date night evoo! Yep, you read that right, a guy is cooking with me instead of all my gal pals. Luckily, this is the perfect menu for a date night. We’re making: Pasta al Forno, Veal Involtini with Pancetta on a Bed of Spinach, and Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. Let’s get cooking!

As with every cooking adventure, this one starts at the grocery store. I knew I wouldn’t have any time on Sunday to shop, so I headed to Trader Joe’s at 4pm Saturday afternoon – of course I decided to go at the busiest hour. I was able to pick up almost everything except the meat, and a few random items. So all in all I wasn’t too disappointed with Trader Joe’s today (surprisingly).

Next I headed to Fairway where I stood in line at the deli counter for a good 15 minutes before I was served. I’m a very impatient person so waiting there felt like an eternity. Finally, I was helped but when I said “one thick 3 ounce slice of prosciutto please” to the deli man, he looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t think my request was too odd, but his mind was blown. He had to have 3 other deli guys help him slice the meat. I later found out he was a new guy..sorry new guy.

Anyways, fast forward to today (Sunday). Andrew came over bearing gifts of wine and amaretto (all for cooking of course). We started out how I start every week with chopping. Me, being an asshole, gave him the onion to chop. I got my karma pretty quickly, though because the onion was so strong it made me cry from across the counter.

We both seemed to have a habit of dropping things tonight, he dropped some onions and I dropped my garlic…I don’t know what the issue was, but besides that mishap, prep went off without a hitch.

We made the pasta dish first since it had to bake, then we moved on to the veal. These were veal roll ups – I know so fancy – we stuffed the veal with parsley, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, then covered the veal with pancetta and fried them. Andrew took care of the frying, and I was honestly very impressed with how he handled it for someone who rarely cooks and is always ordering seamless.

We finished off cooking dinner by cooking some spinach in wine. Now of course, it’s all about the plating so we attempted to make our plates look like a professional restaurant… you can see by the picture that we tried our best.

After what was actually 30 minutes for once (YAY!) it was time for the moment of truth…but I had to explain to Andrew what the moment of truth was. We both tried the pasta dish together first. 3..2..1..Not too bad! This baked pasta reminded me a lot of the carbonara I made a couple months ago. Both dishes tasted the same except this one was baked.

Next came the moment of truth for the Veal. 3..2..1…now this was DELISH! the cheese melted so perfectly and all the flavors blended together. I felt like I was at a real Italian restaurant. I honestly never thought I’d be able to make something like this. Glad the first time I made veal turned out to be amazing.

Once we were done eating, Andrew went straight over to the sink and started washing dishes. Personally, I was speechless. Anyone that knows me knows that I HATE doing the dishes, and I didn’t even ask him to do them! I gotta keep this guy around for a while.

We had a nice little system where he washed and I dried. It was great.

Once we cleaned up it was time to make the dessert. This was super simple. We pretty much just melted some chocolate chips, poured in some amaretto, then dumped it over peaches and ice cream. VOILA!

We decided to share a small bowl of this, so we sat on the couch and tried not to drip any chocolate sauce or ice cream anywhere. I was extra careful since I was wearing a white sweater, but Andrew on the other hand was not so careful. He should’ve been wearing a bib for how much he dripped onto himself. I just couldn’t help but laugh at him…I know asshole moment number 2 for me tonight: I laugh at other people’s misfortune; but no worries, he forgave me.

Now time for the rating. Both of us were pretty much on the same page with all the dishes. Pasta al Forno receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. I compared this earlier to the carbonara, and honestly, the carbonara was 10x better than this. This one was a little burnt, and contrary to what everyone says, pasta is not easy to cook. So when you throw together 2 people who’s fortes are not pasta making, you get a dish that is only 3 hearts. Next the Veal Involtini with Pancetta on Bed of Spinach receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. This was just all around delicious. The cheese was melted perfectly, the crisp pancetta added an extra zap of flavor, and the veal was cooked to perfection. I could not find anything wrong with this, except that it probably could’ve looked prettier. Finally, the Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts as well. I was not expecting much from this dessert simply because of Rachael Ray’s history of desserts, but I was pleasantly surprised. I even said to Andrew “Don’t expect much from dessert.” but he loved it too, even though he did get it all over himself.

Well, a night of firsts turned out to be great. I’ve always wanted to have a cooking date with someone, and I don’t think it could’ve turned out better. I’ve said it so many times before but I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter who you cook with – friends, family, a date, whatever – cooking with someone always brings you closer to the other person. Nothing is better than knowing and feeling that.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

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